Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roasted Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is something I like to make a few times a year and freeze it in ice cube trays to use later on. I use it for when I'm feeling under the weather or just feel lazy and want a quick and light meal. Like most everything I write about here, it's healthy and has lots of flavour.

Everyone has their own way of making it. My way is pretty standard, but I try to put my own little trademarks on it, if you can do that. Preferably, I like to roast the chicken first before throwing it in the stock pot. This helps to darken the stock. I always used powdered turmeric to add another healthy element to it ( and to add the yellow(ish) color to the stock. Yes, believe it or not, it's one of the ingredients which helps give any chicken stock or soup you buy in the grocery store it's yellow color.

I just happened to find some fresh turmeric at the Calgary Farmers Market a few weeks back, so this time I could put a new twist on my stock. I found it at The Silk Road Spice Merchant ( Most times, fresh is the way to go and I would like to think fresh turmeric is an even healthier way to use it. Dried is already ground up for you but if left for a long period of time, like anything else it loses it's flavour and health benefits. If you have the root, it lasts a lot longer but is harder to deal with. It's rock hard, so I believe the best way to deal with it is to grate it with a microplane, a good sharp one, and press hard on it. Don't lose the tips of your fingers while doing it though. That may screw your soup up, especially the color.

If you are using a whole chicken, I was always told there are two ways to do it. Drop a whole chicken into the pot with whatever else you are cooking it with, herbs, spices, vegetables. The French call the vegetable part of this equation mise en place, which means "putting in place" or defined by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) as "everything in it's place." Sometimes it's also called mirepoix. Depends on the preparation or cooking method. At any rate, have your vegetables ready to go when you put the chicken in the pot. Crank the heat up, cover it and boil the life out of everything for an hour. I'm not a big fan of this as I like passive cooking methods rather than hijacking the flavour out of your ingredients. The other (easy) way is to bring the pot up to a boil, cover it and let it sit for about 8 hours. I don't normally suggest doing this, but it does work if you have to run out the door. I have however, found a happy medium for these two. Bring the pot up to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer for about 2-2 1/2 hours.

If you are going to roast the chicken first, strip as much of the meat off as you can before shoving it in the oven. This will darken the bones and help add more flavour and color to the stock. And you can have a chicken sandwich while you're waiting too! You can do this with a turkey carcass as well if you want to make turkey soup with any holiday leftovers.

Roasted Chicken Stock

- About 4 lbs (1 3/4 kg) raw chicken (or turkey) bones (backs, feet, ribs, wings, necks). I usually throw in one or two carcasses as a general rule.
- EVOO or canola oil, if roasting the bones
- 2 large onions, chopped.
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 leek, cleaned well and chopped
- 2 - 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 - 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- small handful of parsley, curly or flat leaf Italian
- 8 - 10 whole peppercorns
- 2 - 3 bay leaves
- 1 red chili
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric
- 18 cups cold water (4.5 litres) or whatever comes close to filling up the pot you are using.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Add oil to large roasting pan and rub it around so the carcasses don't stick to the pan. Add bones and roast in lower rack of oven until golden brown, about 15 to 25 minutes. Stir often to ensure even browning. Browning the bones will give a rich flavoured and dark coloured stock. Skip the browning step if you want a chicken stock with a mellower, more subtle flavour. Try to get as much of the skin off as you can, but you don't need to waste a whole lot of time doing this.

3. Transfer bones to a stockpot. Add the vegetables and herbs. Add enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. As the water comes to a boil, skim the scum off that floats on top. If you don't have the time for this, you can do it later when the stock cools.

4. When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer stock very gently, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or up to 4 or 5 hours if you want a more concentrated flavour. Leaving the pot uncovered will help reduce the volume of stock, thus concentrating it.

5. The liquid should barely bubble; if the stock boils it will be cloudy. Don’t stir it or push down on the bones either. This will make it cloudy as well.

6. Strain the stock through a fine sieve (you could use cheesecloth while doing this if you like too) and cool. Transfer to shallow containers so the stock cools quicker. When cooled to room temperature, seal with plastic wrap or in airtight containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze until ready to use. Skim off any remaining fat from the top of the stock before using. Makes about 16 cups, but yield depends on how long you simmer the stock.

When it's all said and done, there are different ways to serve this. Normally I don't have a plan, I just plan as I go. Bring the soup to a boil. This may take a little time if you are using frozen cubes. Most times I will add rice noodles or spaghetti broken into smaller pieces. Sometimes I don't. Depends on how I feel that day. Then I add some broccoli.

And after a while I will add some diced red pepper. Also, I will add sea salt when I reheat it only as to not have it reduce on me and become to salty. I add the chicken near the end as it is already cooked. Sometimes I will even drop in an egg and let the heat of the soup cook it while I wait for it to cool down. Stir before eating and it will spread itself throughout the soup.

Needless to say, Mrs. Urban Eater and her strong dislike for undercooked eggs didn't agree to the egg thing. Her loss.

This is a great little meal for a cold day or whenever you feel like eating light and hanging out on the cook watching TV or doing some reading. I ate this soup while writing one of the blogs on here. This is another meal idea which is quite versatile and you can pretty much add almost anything that would go into a soup with this. Meat, seafood, vegetables, whatever. I also use it to make risotto or stir-frys. It's healthy and a good way to help make yourself feel better (

When making the stock, feel free to throw in a parsnip or turnip if you like as well. They're good for you and the flavours won't overpower anything else in the pot. Some people even throw in a yam or sweet potato. It's up to you.

Mrs. Urban Eater's Christmas Party

Mrs. Urban Eater had her company Christmas party last night at The River Cafe ( Nice place, nice setting on Prince's Island just off of the downtown core in Calgary. Nice view of all the buildings lit up against the dark sky (not exactly going green with that, but nevertheless it looked cool) as you sit at your table. About 50-60 people there having a good time, nice to see.

As we walked in the door, they had servers handing out a nice Bordeaux, 2005  St. Julien Fiefs de Lagrange, a tasty sauvignon blanc, 2008 Sancerre Alphonse Mellot 'La Moussiere', NV Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition 1 er Cru Champagne and I believe it was orange and ginger snap martinis with vanilla bean infused vodka. I grabbed a glass of the red and so did the wife. While we were visiting with everyone, the hors d'oeurves were being brought around by more servers. Halibut and Shitake mushroom Potstickers, Brie de Meux Filo, halibut cakes, red lentil hummus served on red fife wheatbread and there were a couple of other ones which I didn't partake in as I didn't want to ruin my dinner. There was also an oyster bar with fresh oysters from PEI (Malpeque) and Vancouver Island.

The dinner was served after everyone passed on their holiday wishes. My meal started with roasted carrot soup, then a field green salad, and the main was roasted sablefish which the wife also had. A good selection of mains to choose from made it hard to figure out what to have. Everything on the menu looked so good, but I have never ate sablefish, so I thought it was time. Didn't disappoint. I would definitely order it again and so would the wife.

I had some pics of the restaurant, but the cell phone camera doesn't take great shots in a darker atmosphere. Too bad. I just wasn't going to walk around a party to which I am a spouse, not an employee, and in a nice place like that with a camera. Might be a liiiiiittle bit tacky.

It was a nice party, lots of fun and interesting conversation. We had to leave as I phoned our babysitter, next door neighbor Maria, and she told me O was still awake and playing (at 9:45 at night, well after her bedtime) but everything was good. It was best we got home to settle her down for a long sleep. When we arrived, she was out cold. A nice way to end the evening. It sure is nice to have a babysitter who is a mother to 3 great kids and a new grandmother to watch little O. Very reassuring.

Little O's Menu

As this may be my last blog before Christmas, I will let you know she will be eating whatever is made at the in-laws place. Turkey, ham, perogies, mashed potatoes, whatever she likes she can eat. All of this and the fruits we have been feeding her up to now. We're hoping she will gain about 2 pounds as she only weighs 18 1/2 pounds now. The doctor says according to the growth chart, she should weigh about 22-23 pounds (about 10kgs). He isn't too worried about it as she is healthy and happy, so at this point that's all that matters.

Side note: yesterday I was having some issues with this site (spell check not working right) and some of the content was a little skewed, including a sentence which I actually took out and then magically reappeared! I tried to fix it and re-publish. My apologies if it looked kind of strange. I knew what the problems were, but thanks again K for noticing.

If I don't get another one out before Christmas, have a great holiday everyone. This will be our first as a family so I'm looking forward to ours. Enjoy yours and cherish it.

Merry Christmas. If this offends you, too bad. It's my blog and I can say whatever I want. :)

Quote of the day:

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting"
- Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), Professor of psychology at Brandeis University, founded humanistic psychology and created Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Until next time, good eating everyone.



Kirsteen said...
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The Healthy Eater said...
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